Review: Dead or Alive 5: Last Round (PS4)

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Title: Dead or Alive 5: Last Round
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (8.7 GB)
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
Developer: Team Ninja
Original MSRP: $39.99 (US), €39.99 (EU), £32.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 16
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is also available on Xbox One.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Editor’s Note:
Portions of this review also appear in our PS3 coverage of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate.

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Partial nudity and sexual themes, that’s part of the ESRB description for Dead or Alive 5 Last Round, which is enough to get any hormonal teenager interested and obviously part of its demographic but once you get past the visually appealing bodies you are left with a solid fighter that can hold its own with the best of them. Just like its nearly identical older version on the PS3 it has some extras from the Vita and DOA5 Plus versions along with a fan requested feature: two-on-two tag team battles, which should please the online multiplayer community. As well as gameplay tweaks it includes more stages and characters. Not to mention all the DLC you own already still automatically carries over.

There is also a free-to-play version of DOA5 Last Round released on the PlayStation Store . This cut down version is cleverly titled Dead or Alive 5 Last Round: Core Fighters. This version includes online play and most game modes but there are only a limited number of playable characters and story mode is locked. You can purchase the missing content separately.

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Gameplay:
Where to begin, I guess it would be best to mention this is a culmination of all the DOA5 games in one convenient package, again. Because it wasn’t all that long ago when they released Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate on the PlayStation 3, along with a Core Fighters version.

Since Dead or Alive began life in 1996 the fundamental fighting system has never changed. The fighting system has always consisted of three core components:

  • The first being the popular strikes, these are your punches and kicks
  • Next are the throws, with these moves you can grab and toss a guarding opponent
  • Last are the important holds, which parry opponent’s strikes and land a hit of their own
These three core components each defend or attack against the other. So in a ‘Paper, Scissors, Stone’ style formula a strike beats a throw, throws beat a hold, and holds beat strikes. Putting that into practice takes a lot of time and patience but sadly I have never been that kind of gamer. I tend to learn a move or two of a couple of characters and attempt to string together a decent combo but normally end up button mashing.
… classic stages “The Crimson” and “Danger Zone” have made a return …
I was very happy to play Dead or Alive 5 as I could play and the fight would look good in the process because most of the stages you fight in have several layers to kick or throw your opponent from. There are also plenty of danger zones that cause anything from a massive explosion sending your opponent hurtling into the air or even a tiger mauling an unlucky fighter. All this means that most fights are fun, varied, and exciting unless you fight online against a far more skilled player.

The story mode is taken from DOA5 and is more of an excuse to get each character fighting one another. It has cheesy dialogue and some bizarre scenarios but is fun to play. This fighting game has simple button controls, punch, kick, grab, hold, and throw. It’s the combination of those together with directional commands that allow for some large combos and counters. A welcome addition is the extensive tutorials and Combo Challenge mode which helps in learning another fighter’s moves and is really useful for novice players.

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One of the more interesting features in DOA5 is the Power Blow. This is a powerful move that lets you set a direction to send your opponent flying. Once the Power Blow hits, aim the camera left or right with the D-pad. Do you try to knock them into a Danger Zone for certain damage, or do you send them off a cliff to try for even more damage – and risk doing none?

Each mode you complete with a character unlocks one of their costumes and seeing as there are thirty-four different fighters, it’ll take some time. But that isn’t the main goal of this game, it’s mastering your favorite player and challenging friends and random people online. Because of this review I had to venture online and try out the different modes. I’m glad I did because even when I joined a tournament and watched the fights as a spectator it was inspiring to see the standards you can reach in this game.

Two new stages have been added to Dead or Alive 5: Last Round to bring the total to a massive thirty-one. The classic stages “The Crimson” and “Danger Zone” have made a return with updated current-gen graphics. I’m not sure if I like Danger Zone where the blue floor panels are rigged with explosives and are set off whenever a fighter hits the ground. There are also new costumes for the fighters and the ability to change hairstyles, glasses, and a few other character details, along with new intros and victory scenes for the Tag Matches.

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They’ve also added two new characters, the first being Raidou who was killed during the first Dead or Alive Tournament then pieced back together, outfitted with cybernetic parts, and brought back to life by Donovan. Then we have the very young Honoka who, according to Team Ninja, is “a sweet, easygoing kind of girl… but when she sees a fight, she cannot contain her excitement, nor the mysterious power surging within her. The truth is, Honoka has this strange knack for instantly learning any fighting move she sees. She’s never told anyone about her power, but has been itching to test it out in secret…” This character looks far too young to be in a fighting game and shouldn’t be allowed to wear some of the outfits you can unlock.

… a circus full of clowns and tigers …
Visuals:
The only differences between the PlayStation 3 version and this latest one is that the detail in the scenery extends further back, the particle and lighting is slightly better, and the sweat and dirt on the characters are easier to make out. It also runs in the apparently all important coveted, 1080p and 60FPS. Where Mortal Kombat relies on blood and graphic mutilation, DOA5 has a plethora of attractive fighters all of which get dirty and sweaty during battle, and as you freely move the camera around your victor(s) at the end of the match, you can easily make out dirt and even beads of sweat.

Team Ninja built a brilliant engine which not only makes the characters look detailed and appealing, but has them fighting in such impressive interactive stages I have even found myself putting on spectator mode just to have the CPU characters battle it out whilst I write this review. Memorable stages include a raft hurtling down a river and a circus full of clowns and tigers which aren’t just for show.

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Animation and frame rate is excellent, even when changing characters during a tag battle. Some parts of the scenery are destructible, even some walls, floors, railings, and more, which sends the fighters crashing into another part of the stage. It’s quite visually impressive when you hurl your opponent at some scenery which then explodes causing an elevated train to crash into the stage, or even the smaller things like slamming your foe into some wooden floor boards causing them to splinter and crack.

Now how could I write a review on this series without mentioning the women of Dead or Alive, complete with their breast physics and revealing outfits including swimsuits and kinky underwear with matching bunny ears. Now when a developer spends more time on perfecting the bounce of a mammary gland than correcting the somewhat excitable cloth physics I tend to question where their priorities lie. With the gameplay so fast some may find it hard to get a good look at the attention to detail Team Ninja put into everything like the new skin shader system that gives the characters a bit more depth.

Audio:
Full English voices have been added alongside the many grunts and groans for each character. The impact of the punches, kicks, and obstacles sounds good, especially when you’ve got some decent headphones on. While some characters say the occasional comment during a fight, most of the speech in confined to the cut scenes and pre-fight intros.

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Online/Multiplayer:
Every match I’ve played online has worked brilliantly with lag almost nonexistent. I did have to widen the search parameters to find a fight and on two occasions the system seemed to freeze up and I was unable to back out of a search that never ended. There is still a wide variety of options that allow you to pick the skill level and connection quality when online. The tournament system is very good, and I’m glad they went back to a simpler avatar free lobby as that seemed to affect the match quality.

Conclusion:
This is a great fighting game that I’m happy to see ported to the PlayStation 4 but I sincerely hope this is the last iteration of the Dead or Alive 5 games and that we won’t have to wait ages for DOA6. For everyone on the fence about this I suggest trying out the free Core Fighters version available to download from the PlayStation Store, it offers a great insight into the game and it’s worth downloading. For the people that already own DOA5 Ultimate on the PS3 this isn’t much of an upgrade and would only be worthwhile if you want to retire the PS3.

As for the partial nudity and sexual themes, I enjoy playing a game which shows off the human form, and admittedly Dead or Alive 5 sways toward the female of the species. It’s only as smutty as your perverted mind makes it. I’ve seen more flesh on Sunday morning TV.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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